Cut and paste
A combination of major renovations and gradual, superficial changes has resulted in a home that reflects its owners' heritage and lifestyle.
When Naresh Bhagchandani bought his 1,350 sq ft Mid-Levels apartment in 2004, he was single and his plans for the flat stretched no further than the addition of a couple of new sofas. Ten months later, his interior-design ideas took a turn for the better. With the help of his new wife, a former art director with an eye for design, the bachelor pad morphed into a home. 'I wanted to have a concept whereby every room you walked into had a different feeling yet it was united, so you didn't feel like you were walking into an entirely different house,' says Diva Bhagchandani. 'Each room is designed on a different theme.'
With contractor Peter Leung, of Home Decor Interior Design (tel: 9721 0801), the couple set about creating a living space that capitalised on modifications made by the previous occupants - suspended ceilings and built-in cupboards - but reflected their Indian heritage; Diva also drew from her upbringing in Dubai. While that meant mostly aesthetic changes to the guest bedroom, study, main bathroom and kitchen, the master bedroom with ensuite was completely reworked and the lounge and entrance hall were stripped to bare concrete. During the major renovations, which began in August 2005, the couple spent three weeks in a hotel. The rest of the transformation continued bit by bit until July.
'I didn't want to strip out everything because we were already living in the house and I didn't want to put [Naresh] through the inconvenience of having to move out for long,' says Diva. 'He had also paid a premium because of these rooms being built the way they were;
it would have been a shame to come in and change everything. So I tried to work with what was there already and play around with the colours and the lighting, and make it look how I wanted.'
While the original wooden parquet flooring was mostly retained, the Mediterranean theme in the lounge was enhanced with the addition of grey-veined white marble. False brick-effect wooden walls were also added, along with two distinct recesses to create focal points for the couple's wedding photographs and an original painting by Diva's artist mother. Much of the fabric for the curtains and covers is hand-embroidered Indian silk from Dubai, also the origin of many of the ornaments. The ultra-violet lighting above a false ceiling surround was also an import from the Middle East.
'I'd seen it in a club in Dubai that was pure white, just like this, with a little bit of colour on the walls. They had this blue lighting that glowed and it look really pretty. So I just figured, one day when we had a party, it would give it a different look altogether,' she says.
A modern kitchen was created by installing stainless-steel splashback panels throughout and replacing all the cupboard fronts with red laquer doors and matching accessories. The couple stayed with the dark wood tones for the study, replacing the green glass desktop with green leather, while the guest or 'Buddha' room was enhanced with gold religious icons and deep-red, Chinese-character-patterned fabrics for the bedspread and cushion covers. The guest bathroom remains largely unchanged, bar an extra mirror to create the illusion of space.
The Indian-themed master bedroom draws on the couple's background while the patterned closet doors reflect Diva's artistic touches, which are discreetly scattered through the flat.
While the couple may have stretched their budget on the rooms that mattered, it wasn't a case of spending for the sake of it. In many cases, a splash of paint and some imagination were all that was required to deliver the desired look.
'I wanted [the kitchen] bright, very fresh, and I wanted it very contemporary,' says Diva. 'We bought an Ikea serving trolley, painted it red and put a stainless-steel top on it to match the rest of the kitchen.
'It was a case of what would go with the house - then it didn't matter whether the cost was high or low.'
1 The Rajasthani grill windows, bought in Dubai for HK$5,000 each and painted silver, form the master bedroom's focal point. Also from Dubai are the hand-embroidered Indian silk curtains (HK$2,000) and the bedspread, cushions and pillow cases. The concertina window blind cost HK$1,490 from Larredo Interiors (16/F, Lyndhurst Tower, 1 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, tel: 2886 0821); the Villeroy & Boch vase in the window was a gift. The bedside candles and water cup are from The Candle Company (11 Lyndhurst Terrace, tel: 2545 0099). The custom-made bedside cabinets (HK$2,500 each from Larredo) are finished in silver leaf and feature a wood bark pattern carved on the front of the drawers. The Bhagchandanis kept the original built-in wardrobes and their contractor, Peter Leung of Home Decor Interior Design (tel: 9721 0801), cut a pattern, designed by the couple, into new doors for HK$1,000 apiece.
2 The chairs (HK$1,150 each) and table (HK$1,700) are from Everything Under the Sun (16/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2555 6963). The stonework - floor, balustrade and walls, including the glass - cost HK$34,000 to source and install by the contractor.
3 Adding to the gentlemen's club ambience in the study is the desk, the original glass top of which was replaced by a green leather top sourced and fitted by the contractor for HK$3,000. The leather studded desk chair cost HK$2,175 from Tequila Kola (1/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2877 3295) and the blinds cost HK$2,394 from Larredo. The cowhide rug cost HK$5,500 from G.O.D. (3/F, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2784 5555). The cupboards were inherited from the flat's previous owner.
4 'The lounge was stripped back to bare concrete so everything in this room is fresh and new,' says Naresh Bhagchandani. The false wall, which accommodates a painting by his mother-in-law, Veena Asnani, was installed for HK$17,600. The hanging light is from Modern Lighting (56 Morrison Hill Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2234 0023). The secondary curtains are from Larredo and cost HK$3,780. The material for the external drapes was sourced from Dubai and stitched by Larredo for HK$6,000. The contractor sourced and installed the concertina French doors for HK$19,600 and the marble flooring for HK$73,000. The rug (HK$4,680) came from Larredo, as did the couch and cushions, which cost HK$18,690 in total.
5 The kitchen was given a slick modern look by the addition of a steel splashback for HK$9,200 and new cupboard doors and handles for HK$15,300, all sourced from the mainland by the contractor. The bar stool cost HK$750 from a shop on Lockhart Road and the serving trolley (HK$900 from Ikea, B/F, Park Lane Hotel, 310 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2881 1133) was given a new coat of paint and a steel top by the contractor.
6 It cost HK$6,000 to build the mirror-backed false wall with side lighting and HK$8,000 for the stone-effect false wooden wall behind the entertainment centre. The contractor built the CD/DVD cabinet for HK$5,400. The dining chairs are tailor made by Larredo and cost HK$2,600 each. The table, also tailor made, is from Phoenix Curtains (15/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2866 6686).
7 The vase in the bathroom came from the Mongkok flower market and cost HK$200. The mirror cost HK$3,500 and was supplied and fitted by the contractor. The shelving unit and sink were fitted by the previous owners.
tried & tested
behind closed doors
Beyond this looking glass is a jumble of boxes and suitcases, but that doesn't mean the exterior need
mirror the interior. The previous owners had tried to draw attention away from the fact it was the entrance to a cramped storage space by attaching a full-length mirror to the door. Diva Bhagchandani took it one step further by adding a locally sourced, inexpensive frame, thus creating a picture mirror and enhancing the illusion.
It also helps that the door is fitted with a self-closing mechanism, which does away with the need for a
handle. The slits under the mirror are the only tell-tale signs this is a door.
styling David Roden